Just A Bunch Of Stories Your Teenage Self Would Relate To Hard

    Read these if you've ever been anxious on school photo day, worried if you can pull off bold lipstick, or used sexy fanfiction as a guide to life.

    "We’re going for a spliff under the bridge, and it’s the most exciting thing that’s ever happened.

    I’ve got friends now – a proper gang, three cool girls from my school, and four boys who all wear tracksuits and have gel in their hair and listen to speed garage. They’re boys. Did I mention that? Four real live boys are taking me down to the bridge for a spliff. Yes! I’m 15 years old and finally living my best teenage life.

    It’s autumn, and it’s dark and damp. I’m happy. I have a massive crush on one of the boys, Pete, who has ginger hair and smells like washing powder. When I go to the shops with my mum, I try to find out which washing powder it is. Maybe Persil?

    We’re all mucking about, jumping over bollards. I pretend to be Little Miss Muffet for some reason. We’re stoned already.

    I’m much too shy to talk to Pete, let alone flirt with him, but still: We’re walking together as part of the same group on our way to the same spliff. I feel a step closer to my big teenage ambition: getting a boyfriend. Dawson’s Creek, Clueless, Judy Blume, they’ve all made a promise to me – that I’ll meet a boy, that there’ll be a love story, and it will be amazing."

    Read the whole thing here.

    "I was the only girl in my physics class during sixth form, and I was scared the entire time.

    I was scared I’d get the answer wrong, and I was scared that everyone would judge me for it. I was scared of asking a question that made everyone think I didn’t understand the class. But probably most of all, I was scared everyone would think that anything I did get wrong was because I was a girl, and that it would tarnish their good opinion of girls and our ability to do physics forever. That was a lot of responsibility for a 17-year-old to bear, hence the anxiety.

    I’m not sure how much attention everyone else paid to the fact that I was female and there was only one of me, but it was something that niggled away at the back of my mind that entire year.

    Ten years on, I actually have no memory of ever speaking in that class – though my teacher wasn’t terrible enough to let someone get away with not speaking for two years, so I figure that I must have spoken at least once. At this point I can only assume that my brain has taken it upon itself to block out the experience entirely, for my own good."

    Read the whole thing here.

    Here's Why I Wear Insanely Bold Lipstick And You Should Too by Gena-mour Barrett

    "There’s a lipstick I wear whenever I want to feel like a bad bitch. It’s black, in glossy gold packaging, and every time I twist the container to reveal it in all its obsidian glory, I feel fancy as fuck. No one will mess with me today, I think. It is my armour.

    I have worn lipstick nearly every day for the past three years, each shade more bold and vibrant than the last. It’s so ingrained in my look that it’s become a fundamental part of my identity – a way to distinguish myself among my peers – but it hasn’t always been that way.

    Lips like mine are having a bit of a ~moment~. Suddenly, it seems, everyone wants them, and they're willing to shove their lips into plastic plumping devices just to get them. Big, bold lips are a craze that has captured the attention of young women all over, and for the naturally endowed, it’s a pretty great (and kind of hilarious) coincidence. Five years ago, there was no Kylie Jenner telling teenage girls that it’s cool to have full lips. My lips, which weren't quite dainty enough to fit into the Western beauty ideal, were something I was determined not to draw attention to. And thanks to the seemingly endless stock of sparkly pink glosses and creamy beige “nudes” that dominated every makeup aisle, I never, ever wore lipstick."

    Read the whole thing here.

    9 Men I've Loved by Dan Dalton

    "It's my final year of high school, a couple of weeks after picture day. The teacher hands us all a packet containing our headshots. I open the envelope and immediately shut it again. I suffer from pretty bad acne, and I've been dreading this. It's worse than I'd imagined. My skin is greasy, dotted with whiteheads, red blotches. My hair is over-gelled, my face twisted in a laugh. I'm not composed, the way everyone else is."

    Read the whole thing here.

    "It all started when I was trying to find out where to send my Rupert Grint fan mail.

    I was 11, and a Yahoo search led me to the official Warner Bros Harry Potter forum, and that’s where I found my very first sex mentor, let’s call her xxSlytherinXXXSweetie<3xxx. Her avatar was a svelte blonde doll, she typed in yellow Arial against the edgy-for-the-noughties black site background, and when she talked about Draco Malfoy’s 6-inch-long cock (lol OK), she had to spell it “co.ck” to trick the website’s decency filters. She probably didn’t know that her slightly naughty (but mostly just bad) fan fiction would make me blush, or that that garish yellow "co.ck" would live in infamy as my initiation into a culture that defined my teenage years. As they say, you never forget your first.

    Offline, I was a sheltered military brat; I spent most of my time with my church youth group, or watching the Disney Channel and reading children’s fantasy books, so I had never really come in contact with much sex slang. Even now I can’t read the word “cock” without visualising that little dissecting full stop. Even when we’re talking about chickens. Or raised eyebrows.

    Being scandalised by a mediocre sex scene was not something Hermione, the ultimate heroine of my rich teen fantasy life, would do. (Especially not the Hermione of this fic, who was too busy getting drilled by Draco in a magical soundproof bubble in the Prefects’ Toilet to be worried about the shock value, or worse, grammatical sin, of a pretty arbitrary epithet for junk.) But the idea that a character I knew, loved, and admired, could be doing something that felt so far beyond my maturity level is something I thought I should be worried about. Something I was ill-equipped to deal with. This was grown-up stuff, and grown-up stuff is scary. At 11, I was only about 10% curious about it; the remaining 90% cringed from sex in every other aspect of life. Too busy organising Beanie Babies and lip-syncing to Mandy Moore, thank you very much."

    Read the whole thing here.

    "I was a somewhat friendless only child for the first 18 years of my life, and I thought that meant I was an expert on loneliness. Going to university in an unfamiliar city made me realise just how wrong I was. It became so easy, in those first few months, to isolate myself to an extent that I never had before. For the first time in 18 years, I was living alone and I had complete control over my own life, and that was dangerous.

    My social anxiety dictated that I not leave my room for fear of interaction with the strangers in the rooms next door; my depression dictated that I not leave my bed not for fear of anything, but because I was physically unable to. I listened to both because, for the first time in my life, I had no one distracting me from doing so.

    It is incredibly easy to fall into that hole. It is incredibly difficult to pull yourself out."

    Read the whole thing here.

    How Watching Skins Made Me Feel Seen by Sophie Brown

    "It’s been just over 10 years since I watched on-demand TV for the first time. I got back from college, went into my dad’s attic office, and logged on to his computer. I tentatively navigated the 4OD website and hit the refresh button until a purple landing page with a photo of seven teenagers draped across each other appeared. There was to be a teaser of Skinsreleased – the first 10 minutes of a programme so widely advertised it literally plagued my dreams.

    The advert had been flashing up for weeks. Gossip’s "Standing in the Way of Control" was the soundtrack that kicked in to backdrop a house party that looked all too familiar, because it was exactly what my friends and I had been doing for the past two years.

    I – like most of the nation’s under-18s – had had “virgin” written on my forehead and a massive dick drawn on my cheek with a Sharpie. I’d thrown up in many a sink after draining the alcohol cabinet of whoever’s parents were brave enough to go on holiday and leave their 15-year-old in charge. I had, on numerous occasions, worn nothing but a leotard and cat ears to a party."

    Read the whole thing here.

    Puberty Gave Me Curves I Never Expected by Rosalind Jana

    "Being 15 was hard on me in all the regular ways: I hated school. I had no boobs. And I’d never so much as kissed someone.

    But as if these typical teenage setbacks weren’t enough (and watch any teen movie – they are), I also had a curved spine. An increasingly severe curve. It was pushing my right shoulder out into a triangle, barrelling the left side of my rib cage into a hump, shifting my bones until everything hurt. Clothes jutted where they should fall flat. My pelvis was uneven.

    And it hurt.

    If I sat for long periods of time, aches ricocheted. Often, it wasn’t pain that forced the tears (and oh, there were plenty), but frustration. Why couldn’t I just experience all those standard adolescent problems? Why did I have to take on extra responsibility for my body? Why couldn’t I cast off this figure and shrug on another that didn’t require physio and extra thought about dressing and worried conversations between my parents?"

    Read the whole thing here.

    Here's Why I Write About Teen Girls And Witchcraft by Laure Eve

    "The kindest description I can come up with for Young Laure is that she was, at times, a bit of a tricky creature. The most realistic description I can come up with for Young Laure is that she was, at times, a bit of a precocious git.

    When I started secondary school aged 11, I was surrounded by girls who liked Take That and fashion magazines and lip gloss. I liked Nirvana and Stephen King. And lip gloss, admittedly. The girls I knew wanted to talk about boys and clothes. I wanted to talk about boys and death.

    I vacillated wildly between wanting to be more like them and wanting to be nothing like them. I didn't fit. I was too abrasive, too blunt, too odd, too argumentative, and, goddamnit, my hair was too frizzy. I was just too much – too much or not enough. I didn't know how to be sweet and friendly to everyone and do my homework on time, and I definitely didn't know how to stop being drawn to things that other people thought at best made me weird and at worst made me "kind of psychotic". (I was a fun teenager. Ask my school friends. Some of them still like to hang out with me to this day.)

    Of course I wasn't the only one. Of course there were others who didn't quite fit into the normal, popular, friendly mould. Even the ones who did weren't normal, popular, and friendly 24/7 like some sort of robot cheerleader group. They often felt as lost and isolated as everyone else. Weirdly, though, they still didn't like to talk about death quite as much as I did."

    Read the whole thing here.

    We Went Back To Uni After 10 Years And Here's What We Learned by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

    "We think a lot about teenage rites of passage. Our first novel, Lobsters, was all about A-level results terror and losing your virginity. Our second, Never Evers, dealt with school trips and first kisses. So, when it came to writing a third, there was only one subject we wanted to cover: university.

    The resulting novel, Freshers, came out in August this year, but we started planning it way back in January 2016. We both went to the University of York, so we had tons of shared experiences and embarrassing stories to work with. We dug out our old photos and began brainstorming all the uni memories we wanted to include: mad games of campus Sardines, attending the wrong lecture on a hangover, a long list of people we knew only by their hastily appointed nicknames (Red Jumper Girl, Interesting Thought Boy, Afraid-Of-Sex Phil, and many more).

    But at some point in the process, it hit us: It had been 11 whole years since we'd actually set foot on a university campus. Since we were writing about teens in 2017, we felt that we needed to experience what uni was actually like now, rather just relying on our decade-old memories.

    There was only one thing for it: We had to go back."

    Read the whole thing here.

    Here's What Happened When I Went Back Through My Teenage Diaries by Flo Perry

    "I am just about to go on the pill, not because I am having sex (I am having zero sex), but because I am about to start Roaccutane, a quite traumatic drug for my acne that if you get pregnant on it makes your baby come out with no legs and a shrunken head or something like that. Here I artistically picture my acne by jabbing a biro at the page.

    In a few days' time I am going to a party where there might be a boy who I once snogged at another party, and as I haven’t been to that many parties or snogged that many boys, this is a big deal.

    Despite worrying about being fat (even though I am post-growth-spurt super thin at this point) and having a face, neck, arms, chest, and back that are constantly covered in boils, I definitely tell myself I AM HAPPY WITH HOW I LOOK."

    Read the whole thing here.

    7 Types Of Friendships To Seek Out At Uni by Mariam Ansar

    "I once logged into my Facebook and found a message request from someone I didn't know very well at all. But I knew her name. Everyone at our campus did. She was, and is, unapologetically cool. She said she'd read something I'd written for a student publication, about feeling different as a woman of colour at a prestigious university, and it had resonated with her. I replied, and it was as simple as that. We became friends. It's funny because she let me know, later on, that she'd seen me around and had already circled me in her head as someone to be friends with. She got her wish.

    Fast forward to today and we have almost exactly the same thoughts and opinions on most things, from favourite actors and singers to writers and political theorists. It feels pretty huge to sit opposite someone during dinner and feel understood. To feel like whatever my next sentence will be, the girl in front of me will know what I'm talking about without asking for more explanations from me. I can't really describe the magic of that as anything but solidarity and sisterhood and friendship."

    Read the whole thing here.